17 September 2017

Seventy six


The weather continues to fall into wet leaves and early sunsets that will now repeat until March of next year. This, for me, is a welcome return, one that signals an end to one kind of mania triggered by the sun coming up before five in the morning. I reluctantly turned on the heating on Friday, after feeling like I wasn’t going to ever get warm underneath a jumper and my coat. I stood by the radiator as it warmed up and thought about the things that we need to do to fix the living room after we torn out all the carpet in July. I need to seal the floorboards and put some sealant under the skirting. Buy a rug. Have the boiler replaced.

The house is almost nearly ours, after several months of going back and forth with the solicitors. I email Tina every few days now to push the point that things haven’t been completed and ask why it seems to have taken so long. Tina assures me that they have been passing information back-and-forth between each other, two sets of British solicitors having tea at every occasion they can and moaning about something having gone pear-shaped, one imagines. Or rather, what I imagine, as an American who is trying to get in the minds of the islanders and who just wants it all to be done last week.

Luckily, thanks to some apparent personal growth afforded by meditation, the house-buying process has beem less upsetting that it might have been last year. Two or three weary British acquaintances looked at me with pity when I talked about my brother buying a house in a week in the Lubbock, in the States, and told me to expect it would take several months, even in the best case scenario. So I’ve relaxed now, and am taking it in stride, saving my wrath for customer service elsewhere, like my father might. Besides, something is bound to break on the house in the next week anyway, and better it be the landlady’s responsibility.

In the meanwhile, there are other things to attend to, like my weight, which finally has fallen back below seventy six kilograms, to where I was in the end of 2015 for several months. It took a couple of weeks, once when it was low and I was euphoric before it ticked up again for a week, and then low again, and then back up, but now up and below seventy six, which is what I wanted all along. I don’t feel good about it, unfortunately – now it just feels like a number. Instead, I have the sort of nervous energy that comes with having accomplished something that you now need to maintain. Thinness is not something achieved, it is something maintained. You gotta do it every day, while still thinking to yourself, I am a fat person. You look in the mirror and still see eighty eight kilogram Stephen looking back at you.

My legs are hurting from running on new insoles, so I had to take a day off of running, but with no weight to drop, that part of the game and the motivation to bring down the number even further diminishes. There is little else to do. The fitness vloggers I watch all talk about an endless series of challenges, but this just sounds exhausting to me. I don’t want to have a positive mindset. I don’t have the patience for it. Instead, I just want to be normal. I want to eat a cookie and not think about it. I want to wander around a pet store without feeling lethargic and tired, without taking note of the expected life span of the small animals, and wondering about the next thirty years, and whether I will feel this way forever.

Instead, I am still overly cautious, ordering toast at a men’s breakfast I went to with some people from the church, and causing some consternation among the organisers for not ordering what everyone else had and then suggesting, it appeared, that I was eating less as some morally superior position as a thin person, rather than the truth that I was worried about eating too much and spending too much of the family’s money, which makes no sense from the outside. You look fine, Stephen – you have plenty of money and no one is going to kick you out of the country. Yes, no, you’re right, it’s just that, I just don’t… and of course it can’t be explained.

The work is beginning to pile up again and I marked MA dissertations for several weeks and then worked on transcriptions for one of the new books and then transcriptions for another book chapter about deixis and then edited some of the writing for another. We had a staff meeting and I took over some responsibility for our research group and managing a small budget. Yoko and I had coffee and I disappeared into the the Birmingham University library for an afternoon. All the things that have become habit around this time of year, ignoring the feeling of my body and however uncomfortable or comfortable it is. I look in the mirror and still feel fat – I can’t seem to make sense of myself as a thinner person. My suit coat is probably too big now, isn’t it, but I will also probably be fat again in no time. Better wait it out until after Christmas at least.
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